Sidebar: State Auditor's correction
|On August 8, 2006 State Auditor Patricia Anderson published a report on Minnesota's special districts that contained the above error, pointed out by Rebecca Otto. She denied the report had any errors.|
|Over the weekend, State Auditor Anderson published a corrected report, changing the number to the amount Rebecca Otto said it should be, not $389.0 million, but $569.1 million.|
|The $180.1 million correction was not footnoted and the changed report's title page (above) still bears the date August 8, as if it had never been altered, in no way alerting legislators or other officials who may use the report that they may have the incorrect report.|
|Download the original report here|
|Download the corrected report here|
|Download Rebecca Otto's corrections table here|
State Auditor corrects report after Rebecca Otto points out $180.1 million error
But corrected report bears original date and no mention that it has been amended
News Release | August 22, 2006
SAINT PAUL - With no fanfare or public acknowledgement, State Auditor Patricia Anderson over the weekend published a corrected version of her report on special district finances after DFL challenger Rebecca Otto pointed out over $180 million in errors in the report last week.
"Otto got it wrong today," Anderson told political reporter Don Davis at the time. "She clearly does not understand basic governmental accounting. Otto claimed there were hundreds of millions of dollars in errors, when in fact there were none."
And yet Anderson’s republished report now contains a $180.1 million correction – to an error Rebecca Otto pointed out.
Non-operating revenues for enterprise funds, which include things like hospitals and electric agencies, were incorrectly totaled in the report as “$389.0 million” until Otto pointed out the error on August 15. The new report now lists them as “569.1 million,” the figure Otto said last week was the correct amount, and a difference of $180.1 million.
“I’m glad she’s corrected the report,” said Otto, “but I think a clear indication of the change and republication would have been the proper protocol, and helpful for those legislators and policymakers who may be using the incorrect report.” Such indications, Otto said, are dictated by Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), which the State Auditor is supposed to be following and enforcing.
The report’s date remains “August 8, 2006” and there are no footnotes indicating that the report was amended.
Otto said she appreciated the way the Minnesota Department of Education handled a similar situation after she found nearly $12 million in errors on a school revenue report. “They posted the change immediately, noting the date the report was corrected. That way members of the public or the legislature will be alerted that there are new numbers, so they don't make mistakes by using the wrong numbers.”
Otto said this raises new concerns about the office. “Mistakes happen, that's human, and we forgive them. Under my leadership we'll make sure the numbers add up. I will also take responsibility when there are errors and make clear corrections."